Raymundo Frasquillo Photo/Gila Herald: Pima junior quarterback Seth Russell readies to unleash a pass after spotting a receiver on June 17.
By Raymundo Frasquillo
PIMA – Three other football teams joined Morenci, Pima, and Thatcher in 7-on-7 passing sessions, as well as big man challenges, at Pima High School last week. Tombstone and Willcox attended June 15 and Globe took part on June 17. All are working toward improving individual skills and techniques, in addition to hitting the weight rooms, for the betterment of each teams’ success during the upcoming season. With the high turnout of underclassmen, some sessions are largely teaching for the coaching staffs.
Thirty-six Wildcats were on hand for the two sessions and each of the teams rotated against one another in the 20-minute 7-on-7 sessions.
The big man challenge on June 17 had Thatcher winning the Bull-in-the-Ring 7-3 over Morenci, the Pass Protection Drill 14.5-12 over Morenci, and the 185-pound bench lift, totaling 70 repetitions to 52 for Morenci, junior Scott Ambler had 21 individual lifts; Pima’s junior varsity entrants won the 135-pound class with 58 total lifts and the Pass Protection Drill with 13; and Morenci’s J.V. the Bull-in-the-Ring with nine and the 4-man truck push in 13.7 seconds. Morenci was second (15.4) in the Truck Push, Thatcher third (16.0), Pima fourth (16.3), Globe fifth (17.4), and Thatcher J.V. sixth (18.8).
Morenci finished first in the Truck Push with 7.1 seconds, Thatcher second (7.4), Pima third (8.9), and Tombstone fourth (9.1) on June 15. Morenci won the Sled Pull and the Agility Relay twice each; Thatcher the Farmer’s Carry; and Pima the Sled Push Relay twice. Morenci and Pima tied in the Sand Bag Relay.
Morenci won the Sled Push Relay and the Sand Bag Relay at the junior varsity level.
Pima hosts Thatcher on Sept 10, Willcox (Oct. 8), and Tombstone (Oct. 15); and is in Morenci for the 2021 regular season 10-game schedule and region finale on Oct. 29. The rest of the Roughriders’ schedule includes a home game with Scottsdale Christian (Sept. 24) plus road games at San Carlos (Aug. 27), Safford (Sept. 3), Tucson Santa Rita (Sept. 17), Benson (Oct. 1), and Bisbee (Oct. 22).
Morenci hosts Globe (Sept. 10), Tombstone (Oct. 8), Willcox (Oct. 22), and Pima (Oct, 29). The Wildcats also have Sequoia Pathway (Aug. 27), Phoenix Madison Highland Prep (Sept. 17), and Saint Johns (Sept. 24) at home. The road games are at Eagar Round Valley (Sept. 3), Bisbee (Oct. 1), and Benson (Oct. 15).
Tombstone welcomes Chandler Prep (Sept. 3), Tucson Catalina (Sept. 24), and Willcox (Oct. 1). The Yellow Jackets travel to Tucson Santa Rita (Aug, 27), San Carlos (Sept. 10), Tucson Tanque Verde (Sept. 17), Morenci (Oct. 8), Pima (Oct. 15), Benson (22), and Bisbee (29).
Willcox has Globe (Aug. 27) and Tanque Verde (Sept. 3) at home before visiting Queen Creek San Tan Foothills (Sept. 10), Phoenix Valley Lutheran (Sept. 17), Phoenix North Pointe Prep (Sept. 24), Tombstone (Oct. 1), Pima (Oct. 8), Bisbee (Oct. 15), Morenci (Oct. 22), and Benson (Oct. 29).
Globe takes on Rock Point (Sept. 17), Surprise Highland Prep (Sept. 24), Gilbert San Tan Charter (Oct. 8), and Gilbert Arete Prep (Oct. 15) at home. The Tigers visit Willcox (Aug. 27), Saint Johns (Sept. 3), Morenci (Sept. 10), Gilbert Christian (Oct. 1), San Carlos (Oct. 22), Miami (Oct. 29),
Thatcher has 3A South Region opponents Sahuarita, Tucson Pusch Ridge Christian, Tucson Sabino, and Safford. The Eagles face Sahuarita (Aug. 27), Sabino (Sept. 17), Douglas (Sept. 24), Gilbert-North American Leadership (Oct. 15), and Safford (Oct. 29) at home plus are at Florence (Sept. 3), Pima, Tucson Empire (Oct. 1), Queen Creek San Tan Foothills (Oct. 8), and Pusch Ridge (Oct. 22).
Last season, Benson was first with a 4-0 record, Morenci second (4-1), Willcox third (3-2), Pima fourth (2-2), Bisbee fifth (1-4), and Tombstone sixth (0-5) in the 2A San Pedro Region. Globe is in the 2A Salt Region.
Pusch Ridge was the 3A South Region champion with a 4-0 mark, Thatcher second (3-1), Safford third (1-2), Florence fourth (1-3), and San Tan Foothills fifth (0-3), and both Sabino and Sahuarita did not play enough games to qualify for rankings.
The Eagles opened the 2020 campaign with a 26-0 shutout of Pima; Morenci topped Pima 21-15, downed Tombstone 58-7, and Willcox 27-21 in region play; Pima defeated Tombstone 52-7; Willcox blanked Tombstone 47-0 and edged Pima 13-12.
Four of the teams took part in the play-in round. The 2A No. 16 Pima Roughriders (2-4 overall, minus 4.3966 rating) ended last season with a 28-7 loss to region champion and top-ranked eventual state runner-up Benson; the No. 14 Willcox Cowboys (3-3, minus 0.1736) succumbed 41-8 to No. 4 Arizona Lutheran; No. 5 Morenci received a forfeit win over No. 12 Maricopa Sequoia Pathway, and 3A No. 12 Thatcher eliminated No. 5 Chandler Arizona College Prep 27-22.
In the next round, the No. 8 Morenci Wildcats (7-2, 7.0587) forfeited a 2A quarterfinal pairing with Benson because of the global health crisis bug quarantine, and No. 8 Thatcher (5-4, 7.7724) bowed out of the 3A quarterfinals 43-20 to top-ranked and state runner-up Yuma Catholic.
Thatcher’s three regular-season losses were 17-13 to 3A state champion Snowflake (Oct. 9), 58-26 to state semifinalist Pusch Ridge (Oct. 16), and 28-14 to state semifinalist Gilbert North American Leadership (Oct. 23). Snowflake was ranked No. 2, American Leadership No. 3, and Pusch Ridge No. 4 following the 3A play-in round.
Joseph Garcia is in his third season as Morenci’s head coach; Eric Hjalmarson (Willcox), Jim Hughes (Pima), and Dan Jones (Thatcher) are each in their second seasons; and both Dominic Bonilla (Tombstone) and Talmage Hansen (Globe) in their first seasons.